Family Education Links to Bridging the Gaps Addiction Treatment

Linda J. Wilk, MA, QMHP

Family Education and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

In 2004, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) first published a treatment improvement protocol (TIP) on providing family treatment along with treatment for substance abuse disorders or addiction and alcoholism as they were called them. In 2020, they updated this TIP, subscribing to the belief that “To give a person struggling with alcohol and drug addiction the greatest chance at lasting, successful recovery, families often need to be included in treatment and services.”  In addiction treatment at Bridging the Gaps, we take this very seriously, and we have instituted a Family Education Program that offers families and individuals in treatment the best chance at recovery.

Not the Average Codependency Program

While your family member is in treatment, you will be invited to attend, by telehealth, eight or more two-hour Family Recovery Education sessions.  These sessions are offered via a telehealth group, so that distance from the residential treatment center is not an issue.  The sessions consist of but are not limited to:

  • Brain on Drugs: the science of neuro-receptors.
  • The Family in Recovery: an overview
  • Co-Dependency: Family Roles and Behaviors
  • Co-Dependency: Triangles and Boundaries
  • Post-Acute Withdrawal and the Impact on the Family
  • Disentangling:  Detachment and Using Your Tools
  • Disentangling:  Facing Illusions and Setting Boundaries
  • Facing Changes:  Grief, Love, and Acceptance

These sessions are coordinated from the education sessions that are part of residential substance disorder treatment.

We Are Continually Expanding to Meet Your Needs!

Initially, we developed a four-week program structured to run alongside our first four weeks of addiction and alcoholism treatment, in which residential clients were adjusting to a sober and clean life.  We want our families to understand our unique approach to treatment, including amino acid and vitamin supplements, accudetox, good nutrition, and exercise.  We are determined to help families be an integral part of the recovery process and to introduce them to recovery via 12-step programs like Alanon, Naranon, Codependents’ Anonymous, and ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics).  

As we dipped into the TIPS from SAMHSA, we learned more and more about the likelihood of continued recovery for newly recovering addicts, when family members received treatment as well.  Now we have expanded our weekly program and included a Family Aftercare Group for families who have completed group education and are seeking ongoing support. This group is independent of whether a residential member stays in recovery or continues with their own aftercare; it is for the codependent family member who wishes to continue their own recovery!

Our Goal is Comprehensive Recovery of Family and Substance Use Disorders

Family and couples sessions are an integral part of the program as well.  Above all, we strive to open up communication and teach skills that allow family members to learn to talk about feelings with each other.  Using the TIP recommendations put out by SAMHSA and the cumulative experience of BTG’s experienced counselors and supervisors, we have crafted a program that utilizes skills drawn from multiple modalities and:

  • Works with families in a collaborative, non-blaming way.
  • Addresses harm reduction goals beyond just abstinence, including family goals.
  • Expands outcome measures to include family health and well-being.
  • Adapts family treatment measures to include cultural and community beliefs.
  • Expands treatment goals to address other issues in the family such as chronic illness, mental health issues, and other family issues that may interfere with recovery.

Measurable Outcomes Means Meeting Client Needs

The feedback has been favorable.  One of the best features of this program is the built-in space for feedback from those who participate.  The program relies heavily on these surveys.  We are looking at ways to continue to modify and refine the program and expand it as we learn.  Our goal is to educate, help families, as well as addicts, recover, and stay connected to those who have been through our program.  We want to be there for you when you need us!

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